Tulelake (pics) is an agricultural town of 1,000 residents near the border with Oregon. We’re still quite new to RV travel so we want to try a variety of different types of RV parks to see what suits us best. In this case we stayed in one of the RV sites that is part of the Butte Valley Fairgrounds, which is located within the town of Tulelake. The fair was not in progress when we were there, that happens in mid-September. However, all year the grass sites are available with full hookups and a self pay station. And, perhaps surprisingly, there are three interesting things to see nearby.
Lava Beds National Monument is about 15 miles south of Tulelake. The Medicine Lake Volcano has erupted many times over the past one-half million years to form surface lava flows, cinder cones and lava tubes. This area has the largest number of lava tubes in the world with over 700 known tubes. One of the caves near the visitor’s center is lighted with a well defined walking path but the others are unlighted. It is an interesting experience to explore these tubes on your own with a flashlight. Many of them are a straight through walk but others include multi-level tubes and various tube branches. They vary in difficulty with the most difficult requiring extensive stooping and crawling to get though tight spaces. It was an interesting experience.
The Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge is a 39,000 acre refuge, 17,000 acres of which are leased for farming. The refuge is a part of what used to be a much larger surface area of the Tule Lake. It is a major stopping point for seasonal migratory waterfowl, including many types of geese and ducks. During our walk through a part of the refuge we were fortunate to be able to “take refuge” in one of their blinds during a brief but very violet passing thunderstorm which had really strong winds, lightening, intense rain and a substantial amount of hail. Quite exciting.
Tulelake is also home to a war relocation center which was one of the internment camps used to hold Japanese Americans during World War II. At it’s peak, the Tulelake camp was the largest with almost 19,000 residents. This particular camp became the place to hold those who were considered disloyal based upon a confusing questionnaire each internee was required to complete, making it a segregation center.
Our next stop is Ft. Klamath, Oregon.